Flip Out: Students start mens’ tumbling group

Lucas Hamilton/Entertainment Editor

As a female-dominated sport, tumbling takes serious athletic skill. Three men, with backgrounds in soccer, cross country and dance, put their hands and feet to the test and took to the mats.

Senior Andrew Malley and juniors Raud Kashef and Richard Lam found themselves in the middle of a new gymnasium full of new equipment with not the slightest idea of what they had just propelled themselves into. “We were the only guys in high school that were there, and it just seemed like we were out of place,” Kashef said. Yet, two trainers took them under their wings of expertise and taught them.

Originally, Lam was the only one going to the Black Hawk Cedar Valley Gymnastics. He lived close, with the free time and drive to learn. Eventually, Kashef accompanied him to an open gym session. “If it wasn’t for Richard, we wouldn’t be able to do this,” Kashef said.

The two were planning on using the moves they learned like back flips, gainers and back hand springs in some of their dance routines. They both practiced regularly throughout the summer, trying to learn everything they could as fast as they could.

Nearing the end of summer and knowing that Malley was athletic, interested and driven, Kashef invited Malley to join them for a session. “Malley caught up fast. He had the athleticism and desire to learn just like us,” Kashef said.

Coincidently, Malley had been in tumbling lessons as a young child, and his mom tumbled as well. “When I told my mom that I was going to start tumbling, she got really excited that I was doing it,” Malley said.

Soon, their apprehensions about being the only high school male tumblers vanished. “The trainers, one of which had been placed in the top 10 of free runners in a Red Bull competition, were fantastic to work with. They basically gave us free lessons and became good friends of ours,” Kashef said.

With school getting back into full swing, the trainers left for college. The three were left with the goal of getting everything they had been taught mastered.
“Right now, we are just working on perfecting what we have already learned like back and front flips, gainers, backhand springs and wall spins,” Malley said.
Practicing every day, even if just for 15 minutes, helps the body with muscle memory and allows the guys to get the hang of the challenging moves. “The best part of tumbling is the self-accomplishment that I feel when I finally land a move that I’ve been working and working at. It is exhilarating,” Malley said.

Even with hours of practice under their belts, accidents still happen. Injuries are one of the main concerns of the tumblers and their families. “My mom doesn’t exactly support me tumbling because she is afraid that I’ll hit my head or break my neck,” Kashef said. “It is important to be safe, and there is always a trainer watching us when we practice to ensure that we are safe.”

The opportunity to join the tumbling group is still open to any other interested students willing to overcome their fears. Malley said, “The fear that comes over you before you try is nothing compared to the joy you get after.”

Class of 2014

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